A new study finds that you may be more likely to get a divorce if a friend or close relatives splits with their spouse.

The study led by Brown University looked at three decades of data on marriage, divorce and remarriage from thousands of residents of Framingham, Mass. A synopsis of the study was posted on the Pew Research Center website.

Researchers found that participants in the study were 75 percent more likely to divorce if a friend gets divorced. They also found that 33 percent of couples are more likely to get divorced if a friend of a friend gets a divorce.

The lead researcher of the study suggests the spread of divorce is like a social contagion.

The contagion of divorce can spread through a social network like a rumor, affecting friends up to two degrees removed. Yet adopting a strategy of social isolation so as to avoid being affected (a fanciful idea) does not provide a realistic solution since friendship networks also provide protection against myriad forms of social distress, said Rose McDermott, Ph.D.

Other findings:

  • Popular people may be less likely to divorce because they have a stronger support network.
  • Getting a divorce decreased popularity. Part of this is due to the loss of mutual friends divorcees shared with their spouse. In addition, newly single people may be perceived as social threats by married friends who worry about marital poaching, said McDermott.
  • People who are divorced are more likely to marry someone else who is divorced, particularly if they enter a new relationship quickly.

You can find the full study here

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